Heart and Vascular Health Could You Be at Risk of Developing Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT)? By Heart and Vascular Institute, March 9, 2015 Although blood clots are commonly thought of as happening to older people, many factors can put people of all ages at risk. Most cases are easily treated, but sometimes, serious complications can occur. That’s why it’s important to know your risk factors and ways to lower your risk of developing a blood clot. Deep vein thrombosis (DVT) is a blood clot in a vein deep within the body, most commonly in the large veins in the lower leg. Most clots dissolve on their own, but if a clot breaks loose and travels to the lungs, it can cause a pulmonary embolism – a possibly fatal complication. It’s important to know if you may be at risk for developing deep vein thrombosis (DVT). Lifestyle Factors that Raise Your Risk of Deep Vein Thrombosis A clot may form when the blood flow in a vein changes, particularly if something causes it to slow. Certain habits or life events, such as injury or pregnancy, can cause changes in blood flow and increase your risk for developing a blood clot. Risk factors for DVT include: Smoking Using birth control pills or estrogens Pregnancy or giving birth in the past six months Recent surgery Sitting for long periods during travel Obesity The main ways to prevent blood clots are to stop smoking, lose extra weight, and get active. Start moving around as soon after surgery as you’re able. Walk around every hour or so when traveling long distances. Any combination of these factors further increases your risk of developing a blood clot. For example, talk to your doctors about differences in birth control or hormone therapy to see if there’s a different option for you. Medical and Inherited DVT Risk Factors Sometimes, your risk for blood clots may be higher because of illness or genetics. Having a family or personal history with DVT means you may have a predisposition to developing blood clots. Clotting involves many complex interactions within your body, and if your blood is thicker, the blood flow changes, you experience damage to the lining of your veins, or any other clotting factors are off kilter, your risk increases. Cancer treatment and autoimmune disorders can also raise your risk of developing DVT. If these factors are combined with any listed above, your risk climbs higher. In some cases, your doctor may prescribe a blood thinner to help prevent clotting. By knowing what puts you at risk, you can talk to your doctor about what steps you can take to prevent DVT. Do you think you may be at risk for developing DVT? Visit the UPMC Heart and Vascular Institute online and make an appointment to speak with an expert.